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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Hypnotherapy is recognised to be one of the leading treatments for IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, many people notice a significant difference after their first session.

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is the name for a collection of otherwise unexplained symptoms relating to a disturbance of the large bowel, for which there is no apparent cause.

Symptoms include constipation, diarrhoea, bloating and abdominal pain.

It is the most common condition seen by gastroenterologists, some estimates suggest that as many as one in five adults in the UK have IBS at any one time. Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder of the digestive system, that can affect the gut anywhere from the mouth to the anus, which accounts for the diversity of symptoms seen in IBS.                          

What causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

There are still no known causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) About half of the people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms, start during or after a major life event, such as a house move or change of job, or a bereavement. This suggests that there may be a psychological trigger for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

What are the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms can start at any age but are most common in late teenage years or early adulthood.

The four most common symptoms are:

    Abdominal pain
    Bloating that usually subsides overnight and returns the following day

You may experience problems in only one part of the gut or in several, and symptoms can change over time. Your symptoms will depend on which parts of the gut are involved:

Feeling full after small meals: this may reach the stage of not being able to finish a meal.

Abdominal bloating after meals:  

Increased gurgling noises which may be loud enough to cause social embarrassment
    Severe abdominal bloating and generalised abdominal tenderness associated with bloating.
    Variable and erratic bowel habits alternating from constipation to diarrhoea.
    Flatulence (excess wind).
    Severe, short stabbing pains in the rectum
    In women, left-sided abdominal pain
    pain during sex.
    Passing urine more often.
    Fatigue and tiredness.
    Sleep disturbance.
    Loss of appetite.
    Depressive symptoms
    Anxiety and stress-related symptoms, which may interact with gut symptoms.

How Can Hypnotherapy help me?

Dr Peter Whorwell is Professor of Medicine and Gastroenterology at the University Hospital of South Manchester and Director of the South Manchester Functional Bowel Service, he is also an expert and advisor on functional gastrointestinal disorders, with over 260 papers published.  Dr Whorwell’s unit has shown how hypnotherapy can be incredibly useful in helping relieve the symptoms of these disorders. Dr Whorwell continues to research the mechanisms behind this phenomenon and its possible future applications.

The results of the first formal research study, on hypnosis treatment for IBS, were published in the Lancet in 1984. Dr Peter Whorwell and his group in Manchester in England reported remarkable success from a seven-session hypnosis treatment of 15 patients with severe IBS problems who had not responded to any other treatment.

All 15 patients treated with seven sessions of hypnotherapy improved dramatically with respect to all the central symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The researchers furthermore, showed that this therapeutic impact was not merely due to belief or expectancy of improvement because a comparison group of 15 Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) patients who were instead treated with the same number of psychotherapy sessions and also received placebo pills (pills with no medication) showed only slight improvement. This was a powerful demonstration of the impact hypnotherapy could have on Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and led to considerable subsequent interest in this approach to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) treatment.

Since this first report, more than a dozen other published research reports, have confirmed that hypnosis treatment is effective in treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Although no one can accurately say why hypnosis helps, the hypnotic state itself, without any specific suggestions, will slow down gut motility and change acid secretions in the stomach.

The most effective way to overcome Irritable Bowel Syndrome, (IBS) is to Take a holistic approach, looking at your lifestyle, stresses, diet, exercise, negative cognitions (thought processes), behavioural responses, and emotional upset(s), is the way forward for this distressing condition.

What can I do to help myself?

    Drink lots of water, preferably two litres a day
    Avoid food and drinks that make the symptoms worse. Coffee and milk are frequent offenders.
    It is very useful to keep a diary in which you note down the foods that seem to upset your stomach.
    Avoid strong spices and foods that give you wind.
    Avoid large meals, but eat regularly.
    Limit your alcohol intake.
    Physical activity and exercise can improve digestion and reduce stress.
    Heat treatment with hot packs, hot-water bottles or electric blankets may relieve stomach pain.
    Look at ways in which you can reduce the amount of stress in your life. You could experiment with some of the different relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga.
    Keep things in perspective: excessive worrying about digestive problems could lead to social and psychological problems.

Articles and information sources

Hypnosis brings effective long-term healing of IBS The latest medical research shows that the very high success rates which hypnotherapy has with IBS with long term results.

"Imagine your guts as a river..." An interview with Dr Peter Whorwell, he discusses the use of hypnotherapy to treat IBS on the methods he uses and its long term results.

Hypnosis "can ease bowel illness" - A report in the British Medical Journal recommends that psychological treatments including hypnotherapy be recognised as a best-practice for dealing with IBS.  



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